Baseball teams like last year's 31-1 Calvert Hall don't come along too often. The current 26-8 squad won't match the 2005 Cardinals in wins, but it might match the bottom line - which would be winning a Maryland Interscholastic Athletic Association A Conference championship.
The 2006 Cardinals earned the chance to win the school's 15th A Conference title since 1963 after forcing an extra game in the double-elimination tournament by defeating Gilman, 8-1, in yesterday's finals at Ripken Stadium in Aberdeen.
After losing its second game in the tournament, No. 3 Calvert Hall has roared back in the losers' bracket, winning four in a row and giving No. 12 Gilman (14-10) its first loss. The two teams will meet for the championship at 5 tonight at Ripken Stadium.
Sophomore left-hander Nick Caddick made it possible for the Cardinals with his most impressive outing of the season. Caddick (4-3) threw a seven-hitter with seven strikeouts and didn't issue his walks until there were two outs in the bottom of the seventh.
"It's the first time I faced Gilman, and I knew I had to be aggressive," said Caddick, who threw 104 pitches.
"Our offense took off in the fourth and the fifth innings and gave me a big lead."
Calvert Hall scored three runs in the fourth and four in the fifth for a 7-1 lead off Gilman's Andrew Chilcoat, who went all the way, giving up six hits, striking out only one and walking five on 110 pitches.
Reid Chenworth and Mike Ford had RBIs in the fourth. The Cardinals had only one hit in the fifth but took advantage of three errors by the Greyhounds, who won their only A Conference title in 1996.
"Caddick is starting to mature and we are peaking at the right time," Calvert Hall coach Lou Eckerl said.
"This team seems to rise up when they need to play and they need to do it one more time."
Travis Stewart won his 10th game with a six-hitter as Pallotti repeated as B Conference champion with a 15-3 romp over Park in a game shortened to five innings by the mercy rule.
Stewart, a 6-foot-4, 220-pound right-hander who is headed to Northwest Shoals Community College in Alabama, struck out 11 and walked one in a game the Panthers (23-6) broke open with a 10-run fourth inning.
"It feels great to win two in a row when a lot of people thought we couldn't repeat," said Stewart, who was invited to a pre-draft workout held by the Los Angeles Angels last week.
"I threw in that Angels workout and at a tryout for an All-State team over the weekend and I was a little tired today. But I'll do anything to win a championship."
Stewart (10-3), who throws a fastball, curve and change, gave up five hits and three runs in his first three innings as the Bruins (16-7) took a 3-1 lead.
"Travis was a little rattled early, but he's been unbeatable most of the season and calmed down," Pallotti coach Pat Courtemanche said.
Stewart sparked a three-run third with an RBI double as the Panthers took the lead for good at 5-3.